LATIN has been re-introduced in six primary schools in Fife and could be rolled out across Scotland in a bid to bring the language of Ancient Rome back to Scottish classrooms.

The subject dropped from favour during the 1980s and now few state schools, and not even every independent school, offer it.

Staff at St Andrews University introduced the language to schools in Markinch, Star of Markinch, Thornton, Piteuchaer East, Warout and Coaltown of Balgonie. All six have been visited by Dr Alex Long, of the School of Classics at St Andrews University, as well as a team of third and fourth year student volunteers.

Teaching is based on a system run by charity The Iris Project – Literacy Through Latin – launched by a former Latin teacher, Lorna Robinson, in 2006.

Mr Long said: "I'd heard of the Iris Project and knew they were very active south of the Border, so when they approached us and asked if we'd like to do something in Fife we jumped at the chance."

The Scottish trial has been organised by Dr Long and his colleague Mike Johnson.

Dr Long said: "Our aim is to go into schools several times each semester and teach ancient civilisation so pupils realise there are other languages and other subjects out there.

"Classics is an excellent way of improving language skills in general, and learning how to process information.

"The importance of cases – nominative, accusative, genitive and so on – is a good example of this. So we begin with a very basic introduction to the Roman world and the nature of their language – basic nouns, verbs, cases."

Dr Long said that to prevent lessons becoming dry, they use modern teaching techniques, including games and quizzes such as bingo with Latin words and their English meaning.

Dr Long added: "What we're aiming for is to let children know there is a vast body of information and material out there and to give them a taste of the language and an introduction to Roman culture, society, gods and so on.

"If they find it's something they're interested in and want to find out more, they can tap into it when they're ready."

Feedback has been positive and Mr Long hopes the project will expand to other schools.

He said: "We'd be open to that and as long as the schools are willing to support us we'd love to carry on indefinitely."

Retired Dundee classics teacher Albert A'Hara backed the project.

He said: "Learning Latin is an excellent workout for the mind."

Experts say learning Latin also helps improve general vocabulary as about two-thirds of English words come from Latin roots.

Crime writer Dorothy Sayers once said: "A rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labour and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least 50%."